This week, the Danish ministry of industry, business, and financial affairs presented a number of initiatives to strengthen maritime development in the country. The plan, called The Blue Denmark, covers 36 different growth potentials — one of them is about modernizing the ferries connecting the many small populated islands to the mainland.
Island Municipalities Joining Forces
Of the municipalities with residents living on islands with a ferry connection, 18 have joined forces in the Ferry Association faergesekr.dk, and they will facilitate the development of a brand new ferry concept based on a standard platform. According to dr.dk, the minister of industry Brian Mikkelsen is thrilled about the idea:
“The idea is to develop a standard ferry that is cheap, flexible, and able to sail to all islands. It will be a quantum leap forward for transport to the islands.”
To begin with, one ferry will be built to kickstart the project, and it will be used by the islands for trials or when their own ferry is out of duty for routine service. This first proof-of-concept ferry will cost 40–50 million DKK, and 6 islands have already signed up to use it.
The standard ferries will be built by the company Odense Maritime Technology. Chief secretary Jan Fritz Hansen of the Ferry Association elaborates:
“We have between 50 and 70 different small ferries here in Denmark, because every single island has had their own ferry built. There is no economies of scale in this approach. Therefore, we need to build a standard ferry platform with capacity that can be customized for use anywhere.”
The first ferry due to be put in service next year will have a capacity of 120 passengers and 19 cars. It will be equipped with both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. In the long term, the plan is to propel the ferries exclusively on electricity, but to begin with, this is not possible due to lack of charging stations ashore.
Standardized & Appealing Design
Apart from being modular in its core design, the aesthetics of the design is also important. Traditionally, small ferries are built by technicians to solve the problem of transportation of goods and mobility of residents, nothing more. However, when a standard concept is on the drawing board, that eventually will be seen everywhere, it has to look good too. Residents — and especially tourists — will take notice of a well designed vessel.
In charge of the visual design is the industrial design company Brahe Design, and on the technical side we find a collaboration of the companies Claus Kruse Consult, HOK Marineconsult, and the before mentioned Odense Maritime Technology.
The size of the ferry is bases on a survey of 50 small Danish domestic ferry routes, and all dimensions are adjusted to accommodate the largest possible number of sites:
Length: 36.6 m
Width: 11.6 m
Max. depth: 2.3 m
Service speed: 12 knots
Vehicles: 19 cars or 2 lorries + 12 cars
Indoor seating: 75
The concept will have propulsion in both ends, and the overall structure will be symmetrical front to rear in order to avoid wasting time turning round.
“This concept could be an export success for Danish maritime technology,” says Jan Fritz Hansen.
I hope he is right. The idea of electric ferries is not new, though. The world’s very first electric ferry was described a couple of years ago, and the year after that the fastest electric ferry was mentioned, both here on CleanTechnica.
Today big hybrid ferries are in service on the Gedser-Rostock (Denmark-Germany 460 cars and 1,300 passengers) route, and the Helsingør-Helsingborg (Denmark-Sweden 238 cars and 1,100 passengers) route is getting ready to go all electric (with a 4,500 kWh battery and a 30 feet tall robot-charger!)
However, this idea of bringing a scalable standard for small islands ferries to market is new — and very welcome.